Tuesday, October 22, 2013

That One Guy

Ten years ago, November 1st, Willis planted a smooch on me in the kitchen of my college apartment on Wood Street in West Lafayette and promptly walked out the back door. Prior to that moment, I knew he was someone I always wanted near me, but I remember the way my mind (and heart) raced when I realized he liked me just the way I had hoped.

What ensued after that was just bliss. Mostly. Well, there were some sub-par days. After we were engaged in July of 2004, I hated not knowing where my life was headed (career-wise). I graduated that August, and Willis was still in school for another year. I had a really awful job situation that year, and it was really hard. (In fact, I freaked Willis out pretty badly when I walked out of that first job near the holidays.) We planned a wedding on a tiny budget. I think some of my family was still in shock at our "short" dating prior to engagement period (eight months, if you were counting), and we could sense that.

Then, the wedding day came. It rained. I wrecked my car (totaled it, even, which sounds more horrific than it was. My car was not worth much). I fell down some stairs (before the wedding—my shoes were wet). The hotel lost our room reservation. But . . .

My friend, Bethany, rescued me from my car accident and took me to my hair/makeup appointment (and desperately tried to get me to think happy thoughts so I wouldn't cry my makeup off). Our friends and family came together to help us throw a sweet (yet, terribly sweaty) party. There was music. There was dancing. It was actually a pretty sweet day when you minus all the negative things. Believe it or not, it was actually easy to forget all those bad things.

June 11, 2005—Happy to be alive. And also married to this guy.
Then, after a honeymoon on a houseboat in Kentucky, we moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Lebanon, Indiana. I worked for a start-up newspaper called The Daily Sun. He was a warehouse guy in Fishers for G.W. Berkheimer. I was on a schedule where I would sleep for about four hours at a time and head into the office twice a day. I forget the time frame, but not long after we moved in, Willis got offered a purchasing job at G.W. Berkheimer's corporate office. He started driving two hours to and from work (Lebanon to Portage) after that. When the newspaper announced that a new law was passed to allow unlimited (and capped pay) overtime, I realized we had to leave Lebanon.

So, we moved to an apartment in Valparaiso (after only living in Lebanon for three months). We gained a cat (he followed us home on our last night in Lebanon, believe it or not). I got a job as an in-house graphic designer for G.W. Berkheimer. We carpooled to work. We learned (after spending the holidays with family and falling horribly ill) that we would NEVER have one bathroom again.

We bought a house in La Porte just before the housing market crashed (worst time to buy). We worked our butts off on it putting in some sweat equity (well, more sweat than equity). We got a puppy. He ate some of our stuff (including five remote controls and a brand new pair of running shoes). We got buried in snow a few times.

We had our three kids there. I said that like, "Whoop! There they are, and we did that."

Nope. They may have all been about 22 months apart, but they each came with ridiculously long, difficult labors through which Willis coached me (and saw things that can't be unseen). The last one didn't even want to come out . . . ever. Some of our kids didn't like to sleep. One of them cried A LOT—it turned out that he had ear infections . . . and so did I (cried a lot AND had ear infections). Every winter has had at least one barforama since these kids started arriving. One of the kids even ended up in the hospital in January of 2012 for four days with complications from RSV (even though all three kids had RSV).

We laughed there. We cried there. We found our church home there. We shaped our life there.

Then, Willis got the opportunity to work at Berkheimer's Gary branch.

After the first week of that commute, I remember seeing the look on his face and knowing in the pit of my soul that we needed to move. And then, we proceeded to have the longest slog of ridiculousness (in selling our La Porte house/buying our current house) that most people have ever seen.

And now, we are settled into our "new" home. It's been about 18 months since we moved here. While I am finding myself coming into an age of comfort and more clarity that I'll attribute to friendships, our faith, our community, consistency, and more sleep, I'm watching Willis get up nearly every day and go into work (I say nearly every day because he works most Saturdays, too). He is managing a branch that barely has enough staff. (One of his dear staff members was in an accident this summer and hasn't been able to come back to work.) I've watched him just be this man that leads people (without realizing it himself), and he does it well. He comes home and cooks dinner for all of us—when he probably hasn't eaten a thing all day. Sometimes, he's cooking in the midst of kids that are FREAKING OUT because I've just worked all day (and had to ignore them to meet a deadline), too. Then, I'll just be standing there, stunned, wondering what the heck happened to the whole day.

He never complains about any of it. I can see in his countenance that he is struggling through it sometimes, but he never says anything out loud about it. I know that he'll be annoyed that it (any hint of frustration) even shows, but I'm the only person who can read it (accurately).

What I've told him before, and what he doesn't seem to realize, is that him not being able to hide that from me is a quality that I happen to like about him. I think a lot of people think he's stoic and boring (due to this honed skill and his perfect hair), but I know that he isn't. Not even. In fact, he's hilarious. He's smarter than I am. He's kinder than I am. He is better at putting his belief into practice than I am. He's a better planner than I am. He's my human calculator, dictionary, and map (and people wonder why I don't need a smart phone). He's not above changing diapers, holding a child, or just being an engaging dad. He always does the right thing. He always knows the right thing to say (or not to say). He's considered all the sides to all the issues. He answers the phone like a professional all the time (see? Hilarious). He's more patient with animals than I am. He's more patient than I am in general. He has taught me that not everything has to be done right this second like I think it does (valuable lesson, by the way).

Here we are at Nicole (Angi) Kaeding's graduation party about nine years ago. Photo by Christine Angi.
Here we are, ten years later. Here I am, looking at our life, and I still feel like we're just getting started. There's still more to know about this guy. There's still more to experience with this guy. And, while things aren't as simple or as fun as we'd like them to be right now, I'd still rather be right here than anywhere—with this guy.

He's still that one guy.

1 comment:

  1. Parts of that brought tears to my eyes. Enviable insight. It is clear that each of you has been blessed with great fortune. The two of you make an outrageously adorable couple! YOUR perceptive admiration for Willis makes him one of the richest men in the world. Loveyas